School bond issues go to vote, by mail

DODGE CITY, Kansas – For the first time in Ford County history, residents will vote entirely by mail.

Like many other areas, voter apathy in Ford County is a big problem.

“It depends on the races and if we have any competition, but in a general election we’ll have maybe 15 to 17 percent [of voters turnout],” said County Clerk and Election Officer Sharon Seibel.

Often their general election races are unopposed which leads to low voter turnout, but turnout consistently suffers in a special election.

“It’s just one thing and they’re not wanting to just turnout for one thing,” Seibel said.

With an $85 million bond issue up for a vote, USD 443 decided to mail out ballots in hopes that it would boost a response.

“This is such an important event for the community of Dodge City, for the future of Dodge City,” said Superintendent Alan Cunningham.  “Not just for the schools, but for economic growth in our community that this is too big a deal to leave it up to just 15%.”

About 12,000 ballots will go out on Friday, and registered voters have until noon on June 25th to get them back to the County Clerk’s office.  It’s pretty easy. The ballot has a stamped return envelope and just one question.

“It’s available in English and Spanish on the same ballot and one place to mark yes or no,” Cunningham said.

Because this is the first time the county has tried voting by mail they aren’t sure how many people will participate, but they’re optimistic.

“I hope that we can get at least 65 percent,” Seibel said.

If it passes an old bond issue is expiring, so the mill levy and cost to the taxpayer would not change.

“Don’t forget to vote!” added Cunningham.

Voters must sign the envelope before they mail it back. That’s how the election office verifies that the ballot was filled in by the registered voter listed.

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